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Panopto's Chris Knowlton Talks the Value of VOD Content Searchability

Learn more about VOD and searchability at Streaming Media West 2022.

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2022 here at the Westin Copley in Boston. I'm Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director of the not-for-profit Help Me Stream Research Foundation. I know that's a mouthful, but basically we're 501c3 that takes in old first-world gear, repackages it into streaming solutions. And sends it to places in emerging economies. With me. I have Chris Knolton, who is Chief Evangelist now at Panopto [http://panopto.com]. And I didn't know that you moved to Panopto because the last tracking I had of you, after Wowza and BlueFrame was that you'd gone back to Microsoft. I had. And so how long have you been with Panopto now?

Chris Knowlton: I think this is week nine.

Tim Siglin: Oh, wow. So it is a relatively new thing. Is this your first trade show, or did you go to NAB?

Chris Knowlton: Didn't go to NAB. I went to something called ATD, the Association for Talent Development, which is where lots of instructional designers will go and get new information on the latest tech. That was my first time there. That was last week in Orlando. And this is my first Streaming Media show, obviously, since 2019.

Tim Siglin: For a number of us, it's our first Streaming Media show in a couple of years. So you had some really fascinating stats that you showed on the keynote presentation you did, one of which caught my attention and that of my wife, Michelle, a high wchool algebra teacher--the one where it said that students remember only 58% of what they learned 30 minutes ago, and a week later it's down to 35%. So therefore repetition makes sense if somebody wants to do it. And part of your premise was the idea that we would record that content and then allow people to come back and rewatch it multiple times.

Chris Knowlton: That's correct. I don't know about you, but a lot of times I have gone to trainings and I saw a video, or maybe it was a live training, and that's the only time I had exposure to that content. But if you capture it and then make it very accessible and searchable, you're much more likely to get a lot of value out of that content and help with that repetition, so somebody can have the knowledge they need when they need it.

Tim Siglin: As a matter of fact, we did a survey last year for Streaming Media around enterprise. And one of the questions that we asked people was, "During the pandemic, have you gone to more trade show events than you did in person?" And the answer was yes. And then we said, "What do you like about it? What do you dislike?" One of the things people said they really disliked in the live one was not to have a chance to do question and answer. But the other thing they said that they really liked about those trade shows was that the virtual ones were recorded, so they could go back and actually watch them multiple times. And some of the people said, "After the first three or four, I ultimately just stopped attending them live and would go watch the on-demand because I could learn at my own pace through those. And then I could send a question to the presenter with the knowledge of what that presenter had actually said."

Chris Knowlton: One of the challenges I always have at a show like this is that there are always multiple tracks going on, and inevitably, I will want to see two things happening at the same time. With on-demand or asynchronous video, you obviously have that opportunity. And to your point about not being able to do it all in one sitting--you can hit pause. Maybe it's helpful for you to have it bigger on the screen. So you do captions or a screen reader. All of these are things that you can't do if it's a live stream, but you can do them if it's on demand.

Tim Siglin: Now I've worked with a number of companies who have tried to attack this over the years--one of them being Sonic Foundry--and one of their big claims to fame was the ability to search through content that was on demand. Does Panopto have those kinds of options as well--agenda-based, or text-based?

Chris Knowlton: We do both speech-to-text, so we get every spoken word, as well as doing OCR on content. So any words that are shown, I will pick up as well. So if somebody's flipping through their slides fast, they don't say the keyword that you wanna look for later, we've still caught it because of the OCR. And when you search for it, you'll still find it in the right place and it'll take you right to that place.

Tim Siglin: And I think that last part is key. It's not just, "Oh, this is in this hour-long video." It's, "Hey, you searched for that particular word. Now, let me take you to the multiple instances where that word either showed up on screen or was said, so allows people to rapidly get back to where they want to learn.

Chris Knowlton: Exactly. It's much like a Google search result where you see the key phrase or word in context, so that if you remember what was being said around it, you can pick out the right one from the search results and go right to that spot in the video.

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